A reader writes:
I just finished a master’s degree and would like to work for a relevant department at a local college in the city where I live. I have a particular job in mind (it’s been advertised). The HR lady told me I should address my cover letter to the gentleman who heads that department. When I Googled his name, I discovered he graduated from a well-known diploma mill and does not have an advanced degree.
Now I’m having second thoughts about applying for the job–I would not respect a manager with such a shady academic background. I don’t think a “degree” from a place like Capella or University of Phoenix should count as a degree. Am I wrong?
You’re wrong to be judging him solely on that basis before knowing anything else about him, yes.
What are his accomplishments? What has he achieved? What kind of work does he do? How does he operate? Those are the questions that matter.
It’s absolutely true that for-profit schools aren’t prestigious or even respected. And no, they aren’t seen as the same thing as a degree from other schools.
But there are plenty of people out there with no degree at all who do excellent work, achieve at high levels, and are a pleasure to work for and with. And there are people with advanced degrees who aren’t that smart, don’t accomplish much, and suck as managers/coworkers.
You’re misinterpreting what a degree signals, and you’re putting way too much weight on one element when you know nothing else about the guy.
That said, if you wouldn’t respect him based on this, then do both of you a favor and don’t apply for the job.